According to Nation’s Restaurant News, “the latest National Restaurant Association survey of operators showed that although same-store sales remained negative in July, restaurateurs reported an improvement from June’s soft performance. In addition, more operators reported a positive future economic outlook than had three months earlier.”

“The optimism moved the NRA Restaurant Performance Index, or RPI, to its first gain in three months. The association’s RPI — a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry — stood at 98.1 in July, up 0.3 percent from its June level, according to a report released Monday by the Washington, D.C.-based NRA. It still stood below 100, however, indicating industry contraction.”

“’Although restaurant operators continue to report soft same-store sales and customer traffic levels, they are more optimistic about improving conditions in the months ahead,’ Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and information services for the NRA, said in a statement. ‘Restaurant operators reported a positive six-month economic outlook, and the proportion expecting higher sales rose to its highest level in three months.’”

“In the NRA’s July survey, 26 percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between July 2008 and July 2009, up from a record-low 22 percent of operators who reported positive sales in June. Still, the majority, or 58 percent, reported a same-store sales decline in July, which was down slightly from 61 percent who reported negative sales in June.”

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